By Marie Gilmore
As the long-anticipated and eagerly-awaited Bass Pro Shops opens its doors to the public for the first time on Wednesday, July 29, at 6 p.m. it will introduce more than 400 jobs to the S.E. Hillsborough community along with its 130,000 sq. ft. outdoor retail, apparel, supply and boat repair space.
In addition to being an outdoor enthusiasts’ dream come true, with supplies for all fishing, boating and sporting needs, Bass Pro Brandon will also offer four full-time boat mechanics, describes Store Manager Ronnie Cheeks on a recent behind-the-scenes tour of the new store.
“Residents are going to see custom images of the Hillsborough and Alafia Rivers in this store,” describes Cheeks, who is proud to return to Florida after managing a Bass Pro in Louisiana. “Most of our staff will be local outdoor enthusiasts who hunt and fish these local waters, and our store will have great programs for kids and families as we get open.”
The doors officially open after a company ribbon cutting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 29 and visitors will be amazed at how artisans have captured the local area in murals, waterfalls and foliage. The evening will feature guests from the world of sports, entertainment and the great outdoors. After a short ceremony and ribbon cutting, the doors will open around 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
This must-see destination store is the company’s 10th in Florida and will feature 130,000 sq. ft. of outdoor gear, apparel, footwear and nature-themed gifts.
The lobby is designed to resemble an old Florida trophy room, and features native fish and wildlife mounts from Florida and species from other areas of North America.
The 11,000-gallon freshwater aquarium is constructed to look like a sinkhole with water pouring into it and is surrounded by various wildlife mounts and exhibits including wild boar, black bear, and white-tailed deer. A mural near the aquarium portrays a scene of white-tailed deer jumping through the Hillsborough River.
The aquarium will be stocked with approximately 100 fish native to the area.
In addition, the popular Islamorada Fish Company restaurant is featured inside. Islamorada Fish Company began in 1948 as a marina snack bar in the Florida Keys offering the freshest fish possible at a reasonable price. The full-service restaurant will offer a wide variety of fresh seafood and steak entrees. A 2,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, located inside the restaurant, will be home to colorful and exotic Pacific reef fish.
Bass Pro Shops Brandon/Tampa is located at 10501 Palm River Rd. in Tampa just off of I-75 near Top Golf. For more information on the new Brandon area Bass Pro Shops, call 655-2400 or visit www.basspro.com.